• Adriamycin, Doxil, Rubex
Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat many different forms of cancer. It works by interfering with the function of DNA in rapidly dividing cells. Cancer cells divide particularly rapidly, and doxorubicin can cause them to die. However, certain types of normal body cells also divide rapidly; doxorubicin damages them as well. This leads to a variety of possible side effects, including hair loss, digestive problems, reduced immunity, excessive bruising or bleeding, anemia, mouth sores and male infertility. Doxorubicin can also damage the heart and kidneys, apparently by interfering with the action of the mitochondria in heart cells. (Mitochondria are the energy-producing subunits of cells.)
Possible Helpful Interactions
It is hypothesized that many of the side effects of doxorubicin occur through the production of free radicals, dangerous substances that can harm many cells. Antioxidants scavenge or quench free radicals. On this basis, a number of antioxidants have been proposed as a treatment for reducing doxorubicin toxicity. Unfortunately, while some evidence of benefit has been seen in animal studies, at present there is inadequate supporting evidence from human trials.
According to animal studies,
8. Lissoni P, Barni S, Mandala M, et al. Decreased toxicity and increased efficacy of cancer chemotherapy using the pineal hormone melatonin in metastatic solid tumour patients with poor clinical status. Eur J Cancer. 1999;35:1688-92.
9. Puri A, Maulik SK, Ray R et al. Electrocardiographic and biochemical evidence for the cardioprotective effect of vitamin E in doxorubicin-induced acute cardiotoxicity in rats. Eur J Pediatr Surg. 2006;15:387-91.
21. D'Agostini F, Bagnasco M, Giunciuglio D et al. Inhibition by oral N-acetylcysteine of doxorubicin-induced clastogenicity and alopecia, and prevention of primary tumors and lung micrometastases in mice. Int J Oncol. 1998;13:217-24.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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